The recent closure of AllofMP3 is coming to an end. The site that was
closed in July 2007 has recently been reopened under another name and site
location. The site that has users pay a flat rate to download music was
thought to be in violation of copyright laws in Russia. However, a recent
court decision has held that the company’s former head did not infringe
any copyright laws due to lack of evidence.
Many were sceptical of the closure in the first place, some
citing the impending meeting between Bush and Putin as the reason for
closure. Russia who is bidding to join the WTO may have forced the site to
close to show Bush that Russia is tough on copyright infringers. However,
the recent court decision does not support such implications.
Some customers of AllofMP3 are reluctant to reinstate their
accounts for fear of losing whatever money they put in will be lost at the
hands of another possible closure. The site says that old subscribers can
use the money they had previously on the site but a new rate of $25 is
necessary to activate an account.
The fear of another possible closure comes from the pressure of US
government and the potential for Russia to join the WTO. Some critics say
the pressure is not government based at all but from the Recording
Industry Association of America (RIAA). Does this lessen the purpose
behind the pressure? In terms of power, yes.
The US government used to pack a powerful punch but caving to the
pressures of RIAA indicates the US governments failing grade at promoting
copyright protection of music. However, to suggest RIAA is the power
behind the pressure could also be questioned. Musicians have been a
stronghold behind the never-ending copyright cases being pursued for
Some musicians however are attempting to get ahead of the game. Recently
Radiohead has provided their new album free to customers over their
website and the soon to be touring Spice Girls will not be offering their
album in the traditional format either; opting instead to sell the album
at iTunes or retail stores not associated with the recording industry.
Will this change the tune of copyright infringement cases? Not likely, the
format of infringement remains to be downloading copies of songs without
paying royalties for them. So even if someone downloads from iTunes and
then uploads onto another site for others to download, the infringement
still remains the same.
But what about sites like AllofMP3 that charges customers to download
songs? Logically, the fee that users pay to access the site does not go to
the artists so infringement should be viewed as more than just downloading
and file sharing; its economics and capitalism at its best.
Where is this case leading us? Obviously, down the same old dusty road of
court battles and complaints for money. Will the US pressure Russia enough
to not just make sites like AllofMP3 close, but to change their copyright
laws? If it means Russia joining the WTO and becoming an even larger
global economic partner, then yes. For now though, AllofMP3 will continue
to operate as a new site and continue to benefit from illegal activity.
What no one is discussing is that behind the pressure and purpose of
closing down such sites is that citizens in the US can access these sites
and infringe US copyright laws. Does this differ from gambling sites that
work offshore but are accessed from within the US? Not at all. Instead of
forcing other countries to stiffen up their laws on copyright maybe it’s
high time for the US to do something on home soil. Similar to the US
battle on Canada regarding pirates of movies, the US government is failing
to serve its own people, deciding instead to fight battles it has little
control over except on an international political level.
Not that I’m one to talk, downloading illegal music is a past-time of
mine, like many students who find the price of album not worth the time or
effort it takes to go buy it. Part of the allure of downloading is being
able to do it in your underpants in the comfort of your home while
watching downloaded TV shows and illegal pirated movies. Is it even useful
to take copyright infringements to court, the recent moves by the music
industry to join the downloading game suggests not.